Freedom’s Opposite

Lauren Sordellini showing a trick to children at Jabala's after-school drop-in center in Kolkata.Oswego students traveled to India in January 2010 to learn firsthand about the major international challenge of human trafficking.

For the “History of Human Trafficking” course taught by Geraldine Forbes, distinguished teaching professor of history, the students visited Kolkata (Calcutta) and Delhi to speak to academics, activists and past victims.

Economic globalization has led to an increasing migration of labor, some of it via trafficking that is a new form of slavery, Forbes said. “Estimates differ, but some scholars argue that as many as 27 million people are enslaved around the world, and it is estimated that at least half of them have been trafficked,” some involved in sex slavery or working as domestic servants, she noted.

Forbes’ course looks at this serious global problem in context with slavery from ancient times to today, with the culminating experience in Kolkata offering an opportunity to explore how academics and activists in India try to combat one kind of human trafficking, sex trafficking.

The course was a first concrete step toward what Forbes hopes will become an active research and teaching partnership between the Oswego women’s studies program and the Women's Studies Research Centre of Calcutta University, which organized and ran the lessons in India.

“Calcutta University’s women’s studies faculty, which includes individuals who have written and published on sex trafficking and others who are currently engaged in research relevant to this, is ideally suited to host and discuss this topic with students,” Forbes said. 

Photo: Student Lauren Sordellini shows a trick to children at Jabala’s after-school drop-in center in Bowbazar, Kolkata.

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